Exercise has long been linked to improved mental health, so much so that professionals often recommend physical activity to people who are struggling.
The beneficial effects of sports are especially important for children’s mental health since their developing minds are particularly sensitive. The psychological benefits of sports are less talked about than the physical, but they’re equally as important.
Here’s how sport participation helps children’s mental health:
1. Better mood
Physical activity puts people in a better mood by producing endorphins. This is why being active helps prevent depression and anxiety. Kids are known to feel, eat, and sleep better after being active, which translates to improved mental health.
Whenever your little one is a little cranky, take a trip to a nearby trampoline playground and let them jump, skip, and run to their heart’s content.
2. Higher self-esteem
Sports involve constantly trying to beat personal records. And when you do, there’s no better feeling in the world. Such achievements give children a sense of pride, which contributes to their confidence and independence.
Every success pushes them to try even harder and achieve even more, resulting in a positive self-image. They’ll be less likely to doubt themselves and more prone to acting independently and confidently.
3. Less stress
Stress is a contributing factor to many diseases, so it’s best if it can be avoided, especially at a young and formative age. Physical activity can help because it decreases the amount of stress hormone cortisol in the body.
It also increases the production of endorphins, which promote happiness. Having less stress to deal with makes children have a positive outlook on life and wards off mental health issues.
4. More friends
Participation in sports often makes you a member of a community. Since it’s very important for children to belong, this is a great opportunity to meet and befriend like-minded peers. This is especially true of team sports, where the team often becomes like a second family to players.
This type of strong social support builds children’s confidence and improves their well-being. Sports also provide an opportunity for kids to learn how to resolve conflict amicably and work with others to reach a shared goal.
5. Better overall health
Physical health doesn’t equal mental health, but it does help it. Since sport makes children stronger, it also positively influences their immunity. This can help them fight off viruses and other illnesses that can cause a great deal of stress and discomfort.
Physical activity reduces the likelihood of diabetes, blood pressure, and other diseases in the long run. This means that your children will live happier, more fulfilling lives without chronic illness for longer.
6. Better school performance
School is often a source of stress for children as they’re under pressure to perform. Physical activity helps the development of children’s young minds by teaching them how to strategize, plan, and solve problems. It also improves memory and concentration.
Since the sport has been shown to positively influence cognitive functioning, children who do them are more likely to be successful at school. They’re often able to focus for longer stretches of time, memorize more information, and display critical thinking.
7. Better emotional regulation
Children who play sports need to learn how to deal with frustration because all athletes underperform at times. Losing is tough for a child to come to terms with, but it’s an excellent learning experience.
It teaches them to cope with negative emotions, look at the situation with a clear head, and learn from their mistakes. These are all important life skills that they’ll have to use throughout adulthood.